When Daniel Blumberg, lead singer of indie rock band Yuck, answers the phone, he is inside City Lights Books in San Francisco, perusing the shelves in search of new reading material. In a hushed tone, he excuses himself and steps outside, to avoid talking over the quiet of the room.
Out on the streets of North Beach, he begins to talk about the various aspects of being in the U.S. – this is only the second North American tour for the band.
“The negative is the coffee,” he said. “I mean, that’s why I walked to the Italian district today…’cause [coffee] makes my day about 80 percent better.”
For all intents and purposes, Blumberg and company hail from the UK. However, his cell phone boasts an arbitrary area code from somewhere in Washington State, something he attributes to being given a random mobile with free minutes on it while at SXSW last month.
The appearance in Texas was the band’s first at the festival, and served to break up the time period between the two U.S. tours - the first of which took place during January and February. Afterward, in March and early April, Blumberg’s solo project of sorts, a bass, piano and vocal-laden outfit known simply as Oupa, also played a handful of shows on both sides of the Atlantic.
Although Yuck has only been together since 2009, critics of the band often like to bring up the fact that Blumberg and guitarist Max Bloom were in a band together, prior to forming Yuck. However Blumberg dismisses that as being somewhat irrelevant to the music he is making now.
“Creatively that was a long, long time ago,” he said, adding that he and Bloom weren’t responsible for writing the songs. “For me, it’s like a world away.”
Yuck’s self-titled debut album, which came out in February, has been receiving rave reviews for its combination of fuzzy guitar pop and warm, distorted vocals. The apparent point toward a lo-fi shoegaze influence is also there, a sound which the band never set out to capture intentionally, and, in fact, remains rather true to its initial sound.
“When we started the band we were recording constantly,” Blumberg said.
Yuck documented every new idea and song, and because “some rubbish digital 8-track” was what the band had at its disposal, that’s what was used to record. Two of those original recordings, done with an electric drum kit, made it to the record, while others were simply redone with live drums. But all of them were authentic.
Where a follow-up album is concerned, Blumberg shared that it’s unlikely the band will use the same approach as it did with the first album, and may or may not bring in an outside producer.
“If there’s someone we really wanna work with, then we’ll try and work with them,” he said. “Otherwise we’ll just do it ourselves. Maybe not the same. I mean it was a weird way of recording. I wouldn’t really recommend it. It was quite impractical.”
Of course, new methods of recording may produce a new, unintentional shift in sound for the band, but that’s yet to be determined.
As for what aspect of being in a band – writing, recording, performing – is Blumberg’s favorite, he was relatively non-committal, rationalizing that all of those aspects make it worthwhile for him, and that the band members’ “whole lives are based around that.”
“It’s really exciting when you finish a song,” he said. “Recording it is really exciting, and then the short window when you play it live the first few times, that’s pretty much the most exciting part of being in a band.”
Included in that is the idea that there are pros and cons to being in those different spaces that allow the band to write, record and perform. Additionally, Blumberg made reference to being in a band as creating a sort of dichotomy between his life at home and his life on the road.
“It’s difficult ‘cause your perspective is weird,” he said, of being in the two different places. “On tour we’re going out every night basically…whereas at home I live on my own and I’m really productive and I don’t really go out too much.”
Instead, he prefers to write, or listen to records. Yet at the same time, touring affords Blumberg time to pursue other interests. For example, when the band is driving and spending eight hours in a van, Blumberg is able to do a lot of reading, something he said will take the back burner at home when he has other ideas or projects swirling in his mind.
This also feeds into the part of his personality that functions as an obsessive consumer, in which he strives to devour every bit of information about a certain artist or author or hobby.
“There’s so many things I would love to do,“ he explained, citing fishing as one example. "But you just really have to make an effort to focus on the things that you really love because otherwise you’ll feel just completely overwhelmed.”
And for Blumberg and his four fellow bandmates, that thing is music.
Yuck plays tonight at the Fillmore in San Francisco, opening for Tame Impala at 8 p.m.